Million Dollar Arm
I’m gonna come clean. I don’t like to watch soccer. I’m sorry, but I find the sport visually boring. I don’t mind play with the ball, but watching the professional sport just doesn’t sell well to me as well as something like baseball. I know like any sport, being able to be a pro at soccer is a gift. If I was as good as Pele was, I’d be on that field in a heartbeat. I don’t understand the fandom. I know that soccer or “football”, as the rest of the world calls it, brings in a big audience worldwide.
Maybe it’s a cultural thing or possibly that I don’t know much about soccer, but I won’t fault somebody for liking something that I don’t. Where I’m getting at is introducing a foreign sport can’t be easy, especially if there is already some parallel equivalent. Like how us Americans have baseball while most of the world has cricket. I haven’t seen enough of the sport to have a say, but I know that bringing it to the US would be difficult. I know how difficult baseball was bringing it to the UK. Million Dollar Arm is about bringing baseball to India.
In the early 2000’s, a sports agent J. B. Bernstien (played by John Hamm) is loosing clients to bigger firms that can promise players more money upfront. Bernstien seems to be at the end of his career until he gets an idea while watching cricket t home. After making a deal with a billionaire, he arranges a trip to India to start a big reality show called “Million Dollar Arm”. The idea here is to scout through thousands of people signing up and trying out to possibly become the first major league players from India. Along for the ride is an Indian business partner, baseball scout Ray Poitevint (played by Alan Arkin) and an Indian baseball fanatic Amit Rohan.
The contest ends with two candidates, Dinesh and Rinku, two young men who have never played baseball nor cricket, but seem to have strong arms to pitch. The two are sent to Los Angeles along with Bernstien and Amit who look to train them for a year before giving them a tryout. Though Bernstien seems to see his candidates as future stars, he doesn’t see that the two guys are far from home and only have USC pitching coach Tom House to teach them about the game. Bernstien later learns about caring and such, bonding with the two and giving them the chance of a lifetime.
The problem with a lot of sports stories is that they are mostly underdog scenarios that we’ve seen before. The Bad News Bears started this trend, you know about the misfits that nobody thinks has a chance until someone comes along to build them into star players. Million Dollar Arm is nothing that different. It two has the misfits, our two Indian guys, and a guy who learns the lesson about teamwork, Bernstien. Give me a break.
Inside Million Dollar Arm is an original story, but the movie treats it like any other old sports movie. Why couldn’t the movie be fully focused on the reality show and the travels in India or keep the focus on the two Indian guy throughout. Most of the movie is seen watching John Hamm trying his hardest, but having little to work with. The movie looks impressive and is acted well, but you know what’s gonna happen, whose gonna learn which lesson. If you’re a baseball fan or simply looking for a nice story about underdogs, you’ll get your feel here. But I doubt this will rank among better baseball movies like League of Our Own or The Sandlot.
I’ll give this three Indian baseball caps out of five. Million Dollar Arm is what you expect if that’s what you want. An underdog story. But as so, it could have pushed itself for a home run.